Please Don't Start a Social Media Marketing Agency

by Pete Caputa

Date

July 7, 2010 at 11:30 AM

I realize I'm going to get some flak for this post from many of you as well as my coworkers (especially that social media scientist guy ). But, it has to be said...

Please don't start a social media marketing agency.

We recently launched an application form for marketing agencies to apply for a training program that we'll be starting soon. On the form, we asked them, "What is your primary service offering?"

As you can see from the graph below, 14% of our applicants consider their primary service offering to be 'social media marketing'.

smm resized 600

I'm not sure if anyone else finds that crazy. Or maybe it's just me. But, what does a social media marketing agency do exactly?

Just so I don't sound like some old school 'anti-new-marketing' curmudgeon, I should share that I'm not that new to this whole thing. I took the Broganocratic Oath of Social Media long before you gave up trying to read all of his tweets. Back when there were only 20 of us covering this whole 'social networking space' on our blogs, my startup actually made the original 2004 " Yet Another Social Networking Site " (YASNs) list. Back then, Friendster was hott and myspace was the up and comer. Facebook and Twitter didn't even make the list because they weren't even conceived yet. That was only six years ago! By contrast, 6 years ago, Google was already minting billions of dollars from ppc advertising. This year, the market for dollars spent on ppc by businesses with less than 500 employees is projected to be $7B . Yet, for a 'marketing service' that was inconceivable less than 6 years ago, it's crazy to think there are more people hawking 'social media marketing' services, than delivering 'SEO/SEM' services. 

I'm also not saying that there isn't value in social media. Far from it. Social media is a key part of inbound marketing. Social media attracts traffic that turns into leads . It's a key way to build a following who might spread your message to their contacts. Social media helps with SEO ; It's a key way to connect with other writers and bloggers, who may find you interesting enough to blog about, helping with off page SEO. Major search engines (and increasingly important search sites like facebook and twitter search) use social media signals to serve and refine search results directly. Ad budgets are shifting to ad serving techniques and networks that factor signals from the social graph to improve ad targeting. Social media is another way for sales people to connnect and nurture relationships with prospects. Social media has become an important customer service tool, for those willing to engage their customers.

The list goes on. Social media, just like the internet, has and will continue to change the way business gets done. It'll especially change the way businesses go to market. 

But, does it make a complete service offering ? Can you even turn it into a primary service offering? Should it even be outsourced?

Buyers and sellers of 'social media marketing services', what do you think?

Do we need YASMMA?


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